Iron Chef: Battle Bean Sprouts

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Theme Ingredient: Bean Sprouts
Iron Chef: Chen
Challenger: Takeshi Ohkubo, Head Chef of Kinachi China in Ginza
Remarks: $10,000 worth of Daioh sprouts was used. Comments based on the Food Network 12/8/2000 airing of this battle.

Kihachi Kumagai is the CEO of the Kihachi Group, a chain of about twenty Western- and Chinese-style restaurants throughout Japan. He has said that there are three basic styles of cuisine: Japanese, Chinese, and Western (which I consider to be a very racist statement, especially if you consider this hypothetical converse: "There are three basic styles of cuisine: French, Italian, and Asian."). This was his group's third try to topple an Iron Chef; they were 0-2 coming in. His chosen man for this battle was Takeshi Ohkubo, Head Chef of Kinachi China in Ginza. He went after Chen, so we had yet another Cantonese-Szechuan battle. The theme ingredient for this battle was bean sprouts, called "the shark fin of the field". 5kg each of three different kinds of sprouts were provided: Daioh sprouts, which run USD2000 per kilo (eesh!--typical sprout prices are USD5-10 per kilo) and are grown in only one place in Japan, regular bean sprouts, and soybean sprouts. Guest commentators were actress Akiko Hinagata, last seen in the Valentine dessert battle, and singer Takao Horiuchi. The other judges were alleged Lower House member Shinichiro Kurimoto and chanson singer Yoshiko Ishii.

Ohkubo put together six dishes in this battle:

  1. Stir-fried bean sprouts with cheese and egg whites. Cream, corn starch, egg white, bean sprouts, abalone liver, stir-fried rice, and soybean sprouts (heads only). Kurimoto called this dish "A great way to start."
  2. Bean sprouts shabu-shabu. This dish used Daioh sprouts.
  3. Stir-fried bean sprouts and basil. The sauce was made with basil, chili oil, fish soy sauce, hot bean paste, sugar, sesame seeds, tofu, garlic, regular soy sauce, and ginger (whew!). Horiuchi thought it was a "luxurious dish;" Hinagata liked it too.
  4. Bean sprouts and yuba, Peking duck style.
  5. Red snapper grilled in bean sprouts. Molojan (I think; I don't know what that is) stuffed red snapper covered in sprouts, garlic, leeks, and olive oil, then wrapped in foil and grilled in a manner similar to a salt-crust grill. Kurimoto: "Fantastic; great stuff;" Horiuchi concurred.
  6. Stone-grilled bean sprouts. The sprouts on top were raw, designed to be cooked by hot oil in the stone bowls. This may have been the clincher, although it looked like the tasters were getting hit with drops of hot oil. They all liked it. Horiuchi declared "game over" after tasting it.

Chen also presented six dishes:

  1. Raw spring rolls. Chen removed the heads and tails of the sprouts for one dish (I think it was this one), which made it more like 'royal' cuisine.
  2. Stir-fried bean sprouts and stewed shark fin. [Chinese rice wine added] Kurimoto said the dish "matches well with the sauce. Truly a great dish."
  3. Soft stir-fried bean sprouts. Omar lobster, lobster brain, egg white, evaporated milk, chinton soup, cornstarch, naitan soup fried to a merengue-like consistency, then topped with all three sprouts and chicken soup powder (?!?).
  4. Bean sprout soup. Soybean sprouts, chinese rice wine, chili oil, chinese pickles, chinese ham, chinton soup, and naitan soup. Well-received by all tasters.
  5. Bean sprout fried noodles. The noodles were first steamed, then fried to get the right consistency. Horiuchi thought the noodles were too crispy and the sprouts got lost in the dish, but Kurimoto liked it.
  6. Bean sprouts in wine jelly. Red wine, sugar, honey, and Daioh sprouts made up this dish.

Chen lost this battle, marking the first time he'd ever lost two in a row. Voting for the challenger were Hinagata (19-18), Horiuchi (20-19), and Ishii (18-17); Kurimoto scored it 19-18 for Chen.

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This page contains a single entry by Chris published on May 9, 2005 3:55 PM.

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